Tag Archives: Himalayan balsam

Wandle cleanup: May 2017: Beddington Park

The one with a Limerick…

Did you know last week was National Limerick Day? Well, if you didn’t, to get this blog started here is a Wandle limerick just for you:

But on with the cleanup…

As May is the start of Himalayan balsam season, our cleanup for the month focused on Beddington Park, with our usual volunteers joining forces with our Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) teams: the River Rangers and the Hit Squad.

On the Wandle, Himalayan balsam is widespread and is not great news for the river. As part of our Wandle Invasive Species Project, we have been working with our River Rangers and Hit Squad to map the distribution of the plant on the river, and plan out action to work towards its eventual eradication.

Beddington Park, and Richmond Green just upstream, are considered the “source” of Himalayan Balsam for the Wandle, sending seeds downstream to colonise new sites, and are therefore priority areas to target.

On a sunny Sunday morning we were joined by 58 volunteers, including a local scouts group and our INNS Officer, Alan, with his trusty sidekick, Pepper the dog. After our Health & Safety briefing, we divided into two teams to get started: the cleanup crew and the balsam bashers.

Alan led the balsam bashers. Having worked on the site last year, Alan knew where the balsam would be and took a team of volunteers to remove every single plant.

Meanwhile, the cleanup crew got started on the river. The waders headed upstream from Church Lane towards Richmond Green and it wasn’t long until two trolleys were found.

And then not much longer until another two were discovered!

While working up the river, the cleanup crew kept an eye out for any Himalayan balsam growing on the banks of the Wandle, removing each plant as it was discovered.

In no time, we had made it to the weir and started emptying the trugs of rubbish into wheelbarrows.

Andy and Dave then led an “expert” team over the weir all the way to Beddington Lane to clean and check for balsam on a stretch we are usually unable to access.

We still had 40 minutes until lunch, so the rest of us headed back to the tent, got back in the Wandle and headed the other way to clean the river inside the park. It was close to spotless with only the odd can or bottle!

By lunchtime, the balsam team had finished, and the cleanup crew were in need of a drink. We all gathered back at the tent to have lunch and enjoy the sunshine.

After a longer lunch than usual, Alan took the Hit Squad (our team of volunteers trained in the management of Invasive Non-Native Species) to the small pond on London Road, just outside Beddington Park. Here there was some floating pennywort to remove as part of the Wandle-wide battle against the very invasive aquatic species. A rather terrifying discovery however, was the presence of New Zealand pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii) in the pond as well – photographs and samples were taken to confirm but this aquatic plant could cause real problems for the Wandle.

Photo Credit: GBNNSS

The rest of the waders got back in the Wandle and finished off the last 100 m in the park, finding an extra 3 or 4 bags of rubbish.

It was then time to check the skip was packed, and the van, and then all head home for a nice cold beverage.

So what did we find?  1 washing line complete with pegs, 1 car wheel clamp, 1 tow bar, 1 buoy ring, 1 bag of lemons, 1 coffee table, 1 football, 1 tennis ball, 1 cricket ball, 2 traffic cones, 3 coconuts, 4 trolleys and 15 other bags of rubbish, plus around 200 balsam plants.

Huge thanks to local volunteer Jackie for kindly funding this event, Sutton Council for purchasing some much needed litter pickers for us, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Rosie and Alan for helping me back at the garage, Ann for baking some treats, and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Aaron, Aenes, Alex, Andrea, Andy, Andy B, Ann, Cain, Caroline, Charles, Charlie, Chris, Claire, Clare, Dave, David H, David S, Derek, Drew, Ed, Gavin, Geoff, George, Gillian, Guy, Jackie, Jane, Jenny, Jessica, Jim, John L, John N, John S, Joshua, Justyna, Katrina, Ken, Kilian, Kim, Matilda, Michael, Nick, Nicola, Olivia, Per, Phil, Rolanas, Rosie, Sheila, Sophie C, Sophie N, Steve, Talus, Victor, Wally and William.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? The difference between coconut water and coconut milk!

 

 

 

Wandle cleanup: August 2016: Wandsworth

The one with the new recruits

Hard to believe a month has passed since we were in Plough Lane but it was indeed cleanup time again on the Wandle last weekend.

For August, 49 of us gathered in King George’s Park in Wandsworth, ready for some cleanup action. We had a number of new faces with us this month including some passers-by who found us in Plough Lane back in July, a local rugby team and a team from EquiLend.

After the usual Health & Safety Briefing we got started. The first task for us was to make a path to the river. As we normally visit King George’s Park in the winter, we were suddenly faced with a forest of nettles and brambles. Using a spade and loppers, Phil and Guy created the first path down to the river and our wading team set off.

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While this was happening, I sent a second team to create similar paths through the nettles at the other two gates, ready to wheelbarrow the rubbish. It was not an easy task!

With the waders in the water, it didn’t take long for the rubbish to start coming out. Behind the willow trees, large amounts of debris had collected such as drinks cans and bottles.

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We also found perhaps the creepiest doll I’ve ever seen amongst the debris…

Creepy Doll

Our bank support team and litterpickers stumbled upon a large stand or two of Himalayan balsam. As balsam seeds can be transported downstream by the river, it is best to tackle this plant from the source of the river first, which we’re doing at Richmond Green, Beddington Park, Hackbridge and Culvers Island. However, when spotted it is always worth preventing it from setting seed so that when we do make it down to Wandsworth, we have less to tackle. So a small team of volunteers pulled the plants up, using bin bags to catch the seeds.

Himalayan Balsam

Jane made sure every last plant was found by checking from the river itself.

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By lunchtime the rubbish pile was huge and so I decided to have our break a little earlier, not that anyone would get out of the river!

Finally, 49 people gathered at the tent to have tea, coffee and homemade cake kindly made by Sally and Ann. We all had a rest and basked in the sunshine which had come out in full force since the morning.

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It wasn’t long until everyone wanted to get back to work, most likely seeking the shade of the river! So we went off again…

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The afternoon saw two main wading teams competing for the best Wandle find. A rugby team stuck together finding bicycle tyres, a trike, typewriter and 2 bed spring bases.

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Whereas the rest of the waders were slightly further upstream tackling a giant lorry tyre!

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By the time is came around to three o’clock I could get neither team out of the river!

The rubbish pile at the end of the day was an impressive pile for just 300m of river..

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So what did we find?  1 lorry tyre, 1 coconut, 1 plastic banana, 1 jewellery box, 1 creepy doll, 1 trike frame, 1 paddling pool, 1 engine block, 1 typewriter, 1 pair of waders, 2 car tyres, 2 wooden pallets, 2 bed spring bases, 2 baby rattles, 4 baby dummies, 5 bikes, 6 footballs, 7 bits of random piping (all shapes and sizes), bags and bags of other junk and 7 piles of Himalayan balsam.

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Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Wally for helping supervise the cleanup, and the Waste Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Alex, Allison, And, Ann, Becky, Boguslawa, Carol, Cassandra, Charles, Chris, Clare, Dan, Dave J, Dave W, David A, David C, David H, David T, Eughan, Gideon, Guy, Haydn, Jacek, James, Jane, Jason, John, Jon, L Marshall, Mark, Michael, Nick, Oliver, Penny, Pete, Peter, Phil, Richard, Rose, Rowena, Sally, Sarah, Steve, Stewart, Stuart, Theo, Wally, Zoe B and Zoe D.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That when volunteers are determined, there is no way of getting them out of the river..

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Wandle cleanup: June 2016: Wandsworth

The one with all the rain

I have now been running cleanups for almost two years and I was getting pretty proud of my track record of providing sunshine for everyone. But I failed at this June cleanup. Really failed.

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The weather leading up to this cleanup had been very stormy, with thunder and lightning. The morning of the cleanup was drizzling rain – the deceptive sort of rain where you are unaware of just how wet you are getting. But thankfully, I wasn’t alone. A small group of volunteers showed up to power through the rain!

We were at Trewint Street for this cleanup, funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, a HLF funded scheme all about reconnecting people with the River Wandle. After the usual Health & Safety briefing we climbed down to the Wandle and started pulling out the rubbish which had collected from fly tipping, but also washed down from upstream in the recent heavy flows.

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Even though we were a small group, the rubbish was being dragged up the concrete banks with impressive speed. We found a bicycle, the old railings from the path (preventing access for motorbikes), a barrel and the drum of a washing machine.

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 And if that wasn’t challenge enough, we even found a mattress which took everyone to heave it up over the concrete banks and round to the ever growing rubbish pile.

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As the rain came down, I made use of the tent sides, which I was very thankful I’d decided to pack last minute – quite a squeeze for our little Zipvan.

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Instead of the usual litter picking, our other volunteers tackled a large stand of Himalayan balsam on the bank at Trewint Street. The stand was very dense and had grown very tall, but was yet to flower. Therefore by pulling it up now, we would be preventing it from seeding and making our job easier in the future when we make it down this far with our Invasive Species Officer.

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By lunchtime we were all pretty soaked, so we huddled under the tent to warm up with a cup of tea and some cake kindly made for us by Ann. Given the rain and our sodden coats, we decided to be democratic and take a vote on whether to keep cleaning, or to finish early and head home for warm showers.

I am sure you can guess which won…

So what did we find?  1 barrel, 1 bin, 1 bed headboard (dismantled), 1 washing machine drum, 1 plastic chair, 1 bike, 1 royal mail bag, 1 mattress, 1 country fair sign, 2 road signs, 3 bike barriers, 5 tennis balls, 20+ planks of wood and 35+ bags of other rubbish. Plus all that balsam!

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Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Wally for helping supervise the cleanup, and the Waste Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Aaron, Andy, Ann, Charles, Chris, Claire, Dave, Derek, George, Guy, Joanna, John S, John N, Per, Phil, Rianna, Rose, Steve, Stewart, Wally and Will.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That as much as I might think it, I cannot control the weather with the power of my mind. Time to work on the weather machine…

Wandle cleanup: May 2016: Sutton

The one with the traffic jam

For our May cleanup, we headed to Beddington Park. The event was funded by the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, a HLF funded scheme all about reconnecting people with the River Wandle.

I arrived an hour and a half early for this event. Why you may ask? Well I was woken up early with a small nightmare about the cleanup. I dreamt that I arrived at the event, unpacked the van and got everything set up myself. At 11 o’clock no volunteers had arrived and instead I get a phone call saying I was in the wrong place, and all the volunteers were waiting the other side of the park!

Luckily on the day, this didn’t happen.

Beedington Park Clean up and HB bash 8 May 2016 (13)

For the day we had two aims: the first was our usual Wandle cleanup, and the second was to tackle invasive Himalayan balsam. In the past we’ve hunted balsam later in the year, when the plant stood high above the nettles with its bright pink flowers. Since we’re now getting closer to eradicating this species from Beddington Park and the upper Wandle, we decided to hit it even earlier in the year. But that did make spotting it slightly harder…

Beedington Park Clean up and HB bash 8 May 2016 (21)

After a welcome talk and Health & Safety briefing we divided into teams. We had a wading team which went off into the Wandle to start removing rubbish, we had a bank support team to ferry the rubbish to the pile, a litter picking team around the park and two balsam pulling teams headed up by Theo Pike and Alan Martin.

As our Invasive Species Officer, Alan had surveyed the whole park ahead of the event and mapped where the small balsam plants could be found. But as they were only small, our volunteers needed a keen eye.

Beedington Park Clean up and HB bash 8 May 2016 (27)

Meanwhile, our waders had already discovered a trolley!

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Keeping an eye on the waders involved some getting past some extensive greenery on the sides of the banks, something we don’t have a problem with in winter.

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By lunch time everyone was very hot and relieved to find a bit of shade from the hot sun. We sat around eating our lunches and drinking water, marvelling at the traffic chaos that was happening in the park. Car after car had turned up for a day in the sun only to result in a grid local down the narrow Church Road.

After lunch, the wading team heading further into the park and found another trolley, some traffic cones and a pot of paint.

Beedington Park Clean up and HB bash 8 May 2016 (40)

After this though, the river was very clear and for once we felt like what we were doing was making a difference.

The balsam bashing team continued to tackle the wetland areas within the park, making sure every last plant was discovered and pulled up.

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Finally after a long day in the sun, we packed up the van and all joined the traffic jam awaiting us trying to get down Church Road. What a palaver!

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So what did we find?  1 bucket, 1 cage front, 1 dismantled tent and wire, 1 saucepan (thought this might be a good addition to my new flat), 1 pot of paint, 2 trolleys, 2 road work signs, 3 disposable BBQs, 5 traffic cones, 6 panels of metal fencing, 15 planks of wood and 20 bags of other junk. Plus all the tiny, tiny balsam plants….

Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie & Dave for supervising the Event Tent, Theo & Alan for helping supervise the balsam bashing, John, Chris and Wally for helping to supervise the waders and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Alex, Andrea, Andy, Anna, Ben, Charles, Chris, Dave, Derek, Ed, Geoff, Geoffrey, Gillian, Guy, Hanna, Helen, Henry, Hillevi, Ian, Isabelle, Jamie, Jane , Janet, JJ, Joe, John L, John N, John S, John W, Keith, Klara, Len, Mark M, Martina, Mia, Nick H, Nigel, Per, Rob, Rosie, Roy, Sally, Sofia, Sue, Thebias, Theo, Twyla, Victor, Wally and Will

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That Beddington Park is the beach of South London on a hot summer’s day.

Beedington Park Clean up and HB bash 8 May 2016 (50)

Your River Needs You!

River Rangers

Will you join our River Rangers Team and help hunt down invasive non-native species on the Wandle?

We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to join our River Rangers team and help us monitor invasive species on the River Wandle from its source to the Thames.

Our team of trained recorders will survey the entire length of the Wandle three times a year, building up a picture of where the invasive species are and how well our management efforts are working in controlling them.

Training for the team will take place this August on the 19th or 20th – date and venue to be confirmed soon.

What will be covered?

  • What makes a biological record?
  • Invasive plant identification in all seasons
  • Invasive plant ecology and biology
  • Biosecurity
  • Uploading your data

What will be involved?

Following training, our River Rangers will be unleashed on the Wande three times a year to map invasive species through the different growing seasons. Data will be uploaded online to LISI – London Invasive Species Initiative.

The first River Ranger day will be Sunday 27th September 2015.

This project will form a valuable baseline monitoring system for our efforts in the eradication of these invasive species. Next year, a Hit Squad will be trained up in the management of INNS and will work alongside our River Rangers to manage and control the species they record.

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This project is supported by the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.

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Wandle cleanup: June 2015: Sutton

The one with our new Invasive Species Officer

WatermeadsI had been very excited about this cleanup for a while as it was being held in the newly opened Watermeads Nature Reserve near Poulter Park – a truly beautiful site for a Wandle Trust event!

The event was funded through the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership. To start the event off, we introduced our new Invasive Species Officer – Alan Martin. Alan is working to coordinate the control of invasive species along the entire Wandle corridor with the help of other organisations, local landowners and volunteers.

After the Health & Safety briefing, all 41 of us divided up into 5 teams…

The Briefing

Team 1: The litter pickers!

Since Watermeads was so newly opened to the public, the litter pickers weren’t sure how much general rubbish they would find, but as always they tracked some down! Using our newly purchased litter pickers and our new bag hoops provided by the Capital Cleanup fund, they dispersed into Watermeads and returned with bags of litter!

Waders gonna wade

 

Teams 2 & 3: Wandle waders and bank support  

Again armed with new litter pickers, our wading team headed to the far end of the reserve to hop in the Wandle and start hunting down rubbish. Although shallow in the reserve, the river bed was very silty so the waders made slow progress as they moved upstream. With such high levels of silt, finding rubbish was a challenge – but that didn’t stop them! Using their feet they discovered two trolleys, rolls of carpet and several traffic cones and tyres, all before coffee time.

Trolley

Team 4: Balsam bashers

The Watermeads Nature Reserve was full of Himalayan balsam so Theo led a team to track down each plant and pull it out, roots and all. They first tackled balsam along the edge of the river and paths – to ensure these plants wouldn’t seed and spread further downstream. After this, the team bravely ventured into the undergrowth of nettles and brambles to find forests of balsam standing well above their heads.

Balsam Bashers

Team 5: Floating pennywort

Alan was keen to tackle the backwater pond in Watermeads which was full of floating pennywort – a highly invasive aquatic plant which can smother a water body and impede water flow. However, the site was challenging as the water was too deep for our waders. Some creative thinking was called for…

Pennywort piles

Volunteers used grappling hooks and rakes to pull in pennywort from the banks. It was a strange sight to see – volunteers lassoing hooks across the pond in the hope of snagging a large raft of pennywort. They quickly cleared one side of the bank and were in need of support to reach the other side.

HMS Pennywort

 

Boating

Two lucky volunteers stepped up and got into a boat. Using very, very small paddles, they freed pennywort from the other side and used grappling hooks to tow the rafts back to the bank. A true example of team work.

Pennyowrt Barrier

Meanwhile, Alan wanted to be sure the pennywort wasn’t spreading any further downstream. With the help of Dave, they created a barrier at the end of the pond to catch any straying bits of pennywort, containing the invasive in one place.

It was a very busy day but we achieved so much in just four hours! So a BIG thank you to all our volunteers who came and we look forward to seeing you at the next one on July 12th in Hackbridge – details to follow soon!

Rubbish Haul

So what did we find?  1 baseball bat, 1 old hairdryer, 1 fire extinguisher, 1 Hindu statue, 1 shovel head, 2 carpets, 4 footballs (including 1 Finding Nemo football, so glad we found him), 3 traffic cones, 3 trolleys, 5 plastic guttering poles, 11 tyres, piles of wood and metal sheets, many bags of other miscellaneous rubbish, piles and piles of Himalayan balsam and even larger piles of floating pennywort!

We found Nemo

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event, Sally and Ann for catering for our volunteers (carrot cake and cheese scones were delicious!), Jackie for supervising the Event Tent, Theo, Sally and Alan for helping supervise everyone on the day, National Trust for letting us loose in Watermeads Nature Reserve and the Waste Management Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, AJ, Amarapuspa, Ann, Barry, Carol, Charles, Daniel B, Dave J, Dave W, David, Dennis, Derek, Ed, Felix, Harrison, Henry, Ian, Jackie, James W, Jane, Joe, John L, John N, Kas, Keith S, Marta, Marion, Mark, Nicholas, Nick H, Nick W, Per, Richard, Rose, Sally, Sue, Tara, Theo and Thomas C.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  That you have to be very creative when tackling pennywort in a pond too deep to wade!

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